innocent_man: (bender)
[personal profile] innocent_man
Well, as for the past six years, just before the Academy Awards show I make this big honkin' post about who I think should and/or is going to win. And usually, I put in a request that if you're a hater, you hate on the Oscars elsewhere, because I love 'em and that hate ain't welcome here.

But this year, I feel the need to link to a site I really enjoy and point out this video on If you don't want to click it, it's "A Trailer for Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever", and it's actually very funny, and you should watch it. I am going to carry on typing as though you have, in fact.

OK, I get the joke. I'm an Oscar junkie, and so the fact that heavy dramas tend to win is not lost on me. But the video is deliberately lampooning movies in a particular style, and although the video certainly has a point, I have two quibbles.

First of all, y'know, if you cast a wide enough net, everything is a fish (you can feel free to start saying that and attribute it to Mark Twain). Yeah, this is the trailer for all the winners...except that they're grabbing, what, five or six different kinds of movies there? And yes, they're all the kind of thing that the Academy generally nominates, but to me there's a pretty big difference between, say Dances With Wolves-style movies and Rain Man-style movies.

Second, watch your goddamned superlatives. Every Winner Ever? Really? Let's have shufty at that.

Where in that trailer do you see Slumdog Millionaire? How about No Country for Old Men? I see The Departed, a little, definitely Crash and Million Dollar Baby (in a very general sense), but not Lord of the Rings or Chicago. To me, the movie they're advertising in that trailer is, for the most part, the movies that either get nominated for Best Picture but don't win, or star actors that have already won their Oscars and are using that star power to prop up an otherwise workaday drama. And that's not what the Academy has chosen as Best Picture for (hang on) let's say at least seven years (A Beautiful Mind was kinda that kind of movie; maybe Crash, though it was such an ensemble piece that it's hard to see it fitting into that mold. And I still think Brokeback Mountain got robbed).

All I'm saying is, there are some truly awesome movies that have won Oscars. And there have been some that shouldn't have been nominated. And what we have to remember is that there is no "Oscar" out there choosing the winners, there's just the Academy, which is made up of people in the profession. It would be like an award in gaming chosen by people in the gaming industry. Hell, you'd probably see some blatant politicking, some games that shouldn't even be eligible winning...

Ahem. Moving on. Tomorrow I shall watch the Award show, having a yummy dinner of coffee-marinated steak and goat-cheese mashed taters, and then stumble into work on Monday bleary-eyed as all hell, but hey. That's showbiz.

So, this year we've got 10 movies up for Best Picture, rather than five. Which I thought would mean that the spread in the other categories would consist mainly of those ten, but really it's about the same as any other year, just with...more Best Picture noms. Let's rock.

Best Actor: Some strong performances here this year, I think. We can discount George Clooney right off, because for one thing he just won not long ago for Syriana and he was just nominated for Michael Clayton. It was a good performance, but not nearly as impressive as, say, Colin Firth's. What I found touching and impressive about that role, by the way, was not that the character was gay, but his grief and loneliness. That his marriage had been with a man was relevant only insofar as it served to highlight how alone he was - he couldn't grieve in the same way that a man might over his wife dying. Anyway, awesome performance, but not going to win, either.

We've also got Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela (making him the only historical figure getting portrayed in this category, FWIW). I thought Freeman did a superb job as Mandela, I just think the performance was probably too understated to surpass Jeff Bridges. Same for Jeremy Renner - while the cocky, kinda redneck EOD officer was a great role for him and kudos on the nomination and all, I think the Academy is going to look at Bridges' career as well as the performance he gave in Crazy Heart, add the fact that he did his own singing and that the role is one that the Academy just loves, and I think the Dude is going home a winner.

ETA: Oh, I forgot! Jeremy Renner is rumored to be playing Hawkeye in The Avengers, which I can totally see working.

My Choice and Prediction: Jeff Bridges

Best Actress: OK, this race has the potential to really, really annoy me.

See, I wasn't thrilled that Julia Roberts won for Erin Brockovich. Hell, the only other movie in the category that I saw from that year (that was before I was obsessive about, and also before Netflix) was Chocolat, and I think Juliette Binoche would have been a better choice (that, by the way, was the year Ellen Burstyn was nominated for Requiem for a Dream, and I'm reliably informed she was robbed). I don't think Roberts is a bad actress, I just think that the Academy got hopped up on her star power, and decided - prematurely - that it was "her time." It hasn't been "her time" yet. Her time will come, and she'll get robbed because she already won a damn Oscar.

Same thing is, maybe, happening this year, with The Blind Side. It's a weak movie anyway (which I'll talk about anon), and Sandra Bullock, while she has some fun scenes and lines in it, doesn't have a moment that really made me go, "Holy shit, that was amazing." Now, I'd be tempted to get all cynical and say that it's done deal, but I don't think that's the case because the Academy surprised me by giving this award to Marion Cotillard a couple years back.

So, moving on. Bullock is considered a contender, and of course we've got two powerhouses here: Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep. Of the two, Mirren's performance was, for me, better by miles. I gotta say, Streep's to me felt like impersonation. I've heard a lot of people say that she really channeled Julia Child, and maybe she did, but when I see that role in which the big conflict is "can't get a cookbook published" and Mirren's in The Last Station where it's "I love my husband who is famous and dying and I'm being slowly pushed out of his life and the world is changing out from under me"...well, shit, which one resonates more? I think we can forget Carey Mulligan; good performance, but accept the honor of being nominated. But there's a dark horse in the running.

Gabourey Sidibe. Holy shit. If you haven't seen Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (hereafter referred to as Precious), you're missing out, and I'll talk about why later. But that incredibly difficult and heart-rending role, delivered by a first-time actress? If Sandra Bullock beats her, I'll be pissed.

I expect to be pissed, however. And I'll be exactly as pissed if Streep wins, less so if Mirren does.

My choice: Gabourey Sidibe
My prediction: Sandra Bullock

Best Supporting Actor: This one's tough. Well, it's tough for me, anyway; I've heard that there's lots of support for Christoph Waltz, and I'm fine with that. He's the bad guy in a Tarantino film, and that's always fun, because Tarantino doesn't really make his good guys good enough to coast or his bad guys bad enough to cackle (though sometimes they do anyway). But regardless, the "Jew Hunter" was the standout role in Inglourious Basterds. Amusing note: Tarantino originally was going to offer it to Leonardo DiCaprio. Let that stew a minute.

Anyway, of the other four, let's just knock out Matt Damon in a not-terribly-meaty role in Invictus, and Stanley Tucci for a more memorable role in The Lovely Bones (I wonder if Tucci stays up nights considering that he was nominated for the child murderer role rather than the Julia Child's husband role?).

But then there's Woody Harrelson in The Messenger. Honestly, if they'd nominated Ben Foster, I'd have been fine with that. Harrelson was good in his role, and definitely did the supporting that he needed to, but Foster was the really impressive thing about that movie. Finally, Christopher Plummer in The Last Station. Holy cats. Amazing performance as Leo Tolstoy, and not just coasting the way I kind of felt Peter O'Toole did a few years back.

But was it enough to overcome Waltz? Nein.

My Choice and Prediction: Christoph Waltz

Best Supporting Actress: OK, I'm just gonna burn through these and save everyone some time. Penelope Cruz? Seriously? For that role? See, this is why we need a Best Ensemble Cast category, so I won't be annoyed by full-cast nominations like this and Dillon's. Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick were both great in Up in the Air (of the two, I liked Kendrick's performance better). Maggie Gyllenhaal is such a great actress, and when she finally wins an Oscar I hope it's for something as unique and memorable as her turn in Secretary. But this year, it's all Mo'Nique, and deservedly fucking so.

My choice and prediction: Mo'Nique

Best Animated Feature: Back to five nominees this year, one of which is also a Best Picture Nominee, which is funny, because that's pretty much what this category was created to avoid, wasn't it? Anyway, we've got two movies that I enjoyed, two movies that I thought were really exceptional, and one that I'm still wondering what all the fuss was about.

Coraline was a good adaptation of the book, though I don't necessarily feel it was necessary to Americanize it. The Secret of Kells was, like, all Irish and stuff, and a style of animation that I liked, but the story kind of veered off and ran off a cliff there, dinnit?

The one I just didn't get was Fantastic Mr. Fox. I mean, it played like any other Anderson film, except it was stop-motion animated. Too talky, too long. Teagan liked it more than I did, I think, but then she likes anything with furry animals.

That leaves The Princess and the Frog, which I think was probably the most original of Disney's "princess" movies ever, and Up, which was amazing and worthy of the Best Picture nom it got and the Best Animated Feature Oscar it'll receive. Princess and the Frog was beautiful, the music was awesome (zydeco FTW!), and I love making a bokor the villain, but it didn't have the resonance of Up, nor did it SQUIRREL!

My choice and prediction: Up

Best Cinematography: I have no idea how to figure this award, but I've seen all five nominees, so I'll talk about 'em. I think we can discount Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which was better than I thought it was going to be. Of the Harry Potter films, it definitely had the best cinematography. I don't remember ever being impressed by the camera work in that series before, but this one had some pretty nifty stuff going on. I think we can also ignore The White Ribbon. I know there was subtle stuff going on - shoot in color, then change to black and white and sharpen the faces, but at the end of the day it looked to me like a black and white movie, so big whoop (also, for the movie in general: wtf?). That leaves three Best Picture noms, including the 900 pound blue gorilla, Avatar. Since I think that what people really like about Avatar is the look of it, I think it'll beat out The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds here. Of the nominees, though, I think that Harry Potter is actually my choice. Inglourious Basterds was pretty standard Tarantino stuff, and The Hurt Locker was good, but didn't wow me the way HP&HBP did.

My choice: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
My prediction: Avatar

Best Director: Fuck James Cameron anyway. I'm not saying Avatar wasn't enjoyable, but it was popcorn. It wasn't making any kind of statement, except "the White Messiah is still a safe bet." Putting him in the same category as Lee Daniels? Geez.

I don't think Jason Reitman has it. I think he's a little out of his league in this company. I don't think Quentin Tarantino does either, and I think that my buddy [ profile] newbis has it right when he says that Tarantino needs an editor (fun fact: Inglourious Basterds is nominated for editing, too). I think Quentin needs to direct someone else's script for once.

Anyway, Hollywood loves them some drama, and the real race is between Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow. Now, she's apparently the front-runner, and she's Cameron's ex, and she'd be the first woman to win this award. OOOOOOOH. For my taste, it's between her and Daniels, and I think Precious' strengths are the acting and the story, while The Hurt Locker's direction really makes the movie.

My choice and prediction: Kathryn Bigelow

Best Editing: I don't normally talk about this category, but hey. We've got the movie done 60% by computers (Avatar), The Hurt Locker, Precious (neither of which did anything real special or new in terms of editing, I don't think), Inglourious Basterds which could have used a little more trimming, and District 9, which was shot and edited like a documentary. I have no idea who's going to win, and in such cases I default to Avatar this year, but my choice is District 9. Doing a doc-style movie convincingly is hard.

My choice: District 9
My prediction: Avatar

Best Adapted Screenplay: You know, if I'd thought about it, I'd have made Push our [ profile] tome_truncheon choice for February. Ah, well. Once again, I haven't read any of these works. An Education was autobiographical. Point of interest: The conman love interest in the movie was, in reality, named Simon. They changed his name to "David" for the movie (not sure why), which the author objected to because he real-life husband is named David. Anyway, it makes for a decent story, but it's up against District 9 (adapted from a short film), In the Loop (based on a TV show), Precious: Based on the..., well you know, and Up in the Air (based on a novel).

I've gotta say: I loved In the Loop. Fast, funny, biting, and amazing use of profanity (I have to resist ending every phone call with "Fuckety-bye-bye" now). But of those five stories, which one was the best? Hell. It's probably between Precious and District 9. The one that's most meaningful to me is Precious, but the one that appeals to me most as a geek is District 9. Jeez.

My choice and prediction: Precious

Best Original Screenplay: As I mentioned a few posts back, A Serious Man just confused me. Really...what? See it as a retelling of the story of Job and it improves, but still, it just slams into a brick wall at the end, which to me isn't great storytelling (yes, I'm one of those fuddy-duddies who likes me some fucking resolution). The Hurt Locker's strength was in the directing, not the story (it's a war movie, and that's pretty straightforward). The Messenger was also a war movie, from a different perspective, and more character-driven than The Hurt Locker. Up was pulp! Talking dogs! Lost places! Adventure is out there! (I love that movie.) And then there's Inglourious Basterds. It's Tarantino, what with the quirky characters, the converging storylines, the "lots of people die at the end." I think the Academy is going to give Quentin his props here, and I think that's OK. But. Better than Up, for my tastes? Hmm. No, I don't think so. Considering the challenges - protagonist is an old man, medium is animation, target demo is "for kids", I think that the Pixar team could have phoned it in. Fortunately, they don't roll like that.

My choice: Up
My prediction: Inglourious Basterds

Best Freaking Picture: OK. 10 nominees. Let's pare that shit down a bit.

The Blind Side isn't winning and shouldn't have been nominated. Like I said, it's a Lifetime Original with a budget. Someone said recently (might have been [ profile] heron61 that it was a "white savior" movie; yes, but it's also a real story, so that angle doesn't bug me as much. What does bug me is just that it's kind of cotton candy and nothing, to me, sets it on the level of the other nominees. It ain't winning.

A Serious Man isn't winning and shouldn't have been nominated. I don't know if the Academy really thought this movie was awesome or if they just know that the Coen brothers generally do awesome work, but this one was honestly a little dull. Had its moments, but the movie seemed to be an exploration of the notion that God isn't going to help you, no matter what you ask or how deep your sorrows, and there's no greater point to it all. That's all true, of course, but I think the Coens just kind of lapsed here. Ain't winning.

Up. Sigh. Amazing film. If the opening scene doesn't bring tears to your eyes, you're a robot zombie. But as I've already said, it's going to win for Best Animated SQUIRREL!

District 9. This is actually in my top three movies for Best Picture, and I think Sharlto Copley should have been nominated for Best Actor over George Clooney. It's about aliens, yeah, but it's about xenophobia and racism and illegal aliens and future's a much deeper film than Avatar, and what galls me is that in a year with only five noms, it wouldn't have been on the list. Ain't winning, dammit.

An Education. I have to say, I wasn't all that impressed. I mean, Carey Mulligan did a good job and all, but the story was pretty...thin? Girl falls for wrong guy. I think that if the story had been fictional, rather than true, we'd have seen more juicy bits - girl gets pregnant, girl accompanies boy on heist, whatever. But as it is, it was, in fact, just her education, and while it makes for an interesting story, I don't think it's worthy of a Best Picture award. It's not getting one, though, because no way is it beating out Avatar.

Inglourious Basterds. Not exactly topical, not exactly short, and not exactly Tarantino's best (which is his best, do you think: Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction? It ain't winning, but I'm OK with it getting the nom.

Precious. This hurts, but it's not going to win. I think the buzz for Hurt Locker and Avatar is too strong, and that means this one's going to settle for some other awards. But I do want to address something: This movie is not about race. It's not about black people and the awful shit they do. It might be about poor people and the awful shit they do, but nowhere is there a white savior or even a white bad guy. And note that Sapphire wrote this story after doing the job that Paula Patton does in the movie (literacy teacher in Harlem) and based Precious on girls she really knew. Hey, look, I work in Cleveland, and I know kids who go through some pretty awful stuff (nothing on the level of Precious, not that I know of, though there are some kids that make me wonder). I know the kids that are so focused on getting through their day intact that they don't always notice what's happening around them, much less engage enough to learn superfluous skills like reading. Anyway. Precious isn't winning tomorrow night, but I'm glad it got nominated.

The Hurt Locker. As anti-Iraq War movies go, I think The Messenger makes the point more succinctly. But then, The Hurt Locker does more to nail home what kind of war we're really in, a war where anything, a body included, is a bomb, and we're so far out of our element that we really can't tell friend from foe. In the end, Renner's character's decision to go back is a heroic one, by dint of the work he does in the war, whether the war itself is just or not (that'd be "not"). And I hear that this movie has a lot of support. But is it enough to beat...

Avatar. Let's say you're in a poetry class, and you write a technically correct, tight and topical poem, and you lose to the guy that aped Gerard Manly Hopkins because he knew that the teacher is a devout Catholic? Avatar is pretty, and it's entertaining, and yeah they sure did use those computers well. But you know what? It doesn't touch anything that Cameron has done before, except in terms of effects and that's only because technology has improved. Aliens was a much better story and had much better acting. T2, for all its special effect glitz, had characters you could care about and some genuine suspense. The Abyss? The scene where Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio pours her heart out to Ed Harris over a microphone, trying to keep him from panicking as he descends to what by rights should have been his death makes me tear up every time. Even Titanic, Cameron's 190-million-dollar chick-flick, was by contrast a superb movie. Avatar was popcorn, and it shouldn't have been nominated.

Now, the bright spot here is that they've changed the way the voting works. It's not a straight-up vote for Best Picture. The Academy members rate the movies 1 to 10, and then 1s are counted, the 2s are counted, and so on...I don't understand it exactly, I just know that it's not a yes/no vote, and that means that the movie with the most overall support is going to take it. I'm hoping that's not Avatar, but we'll see tomorrow night.

My choice: Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
My prediction: The Hurt Locker

Date: 2010-03-07 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For me the best films of last year were Moon, Star Trek, District 9, and Fantastic Mr Fox

Date: 2010-03-07 05:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The White Ribbon is my choice for cinematography. I can't help but think Avatar will take it though.

Date: 2010-03-07 05:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
How can you not like Fabulous Mr. Fox? It was fantastic! Clearly you could not decipher the subtleties of Animal economic unrest and human arrogance towards moles or dead rats floating in the bayou...

...I've got nothing. I enjoyed it because it had talking animals. o_o;

I did not get to see all of the Oscar films this year, but I saw some and for the most part I liked them all.

Best Picture: Precious. I didn't like this movie. I didn't like this movie because it made me feel sad and I wanted to give Precious a hug for all the shit that happened to her. I didn't like this movie because it made me feel for the characters and didn't feel fake. Monique was fantastic as the Mom even when I wanted to drop kick her in the face!

Least Favorite: The Hurt Locker. The film didn't move me. The film had been described by my friends as "A gritty, very poignant look at the Iraq War and what it's like over there." I could never get into the film and the whole time I wanted to hurt the main character for endangering his squad mates with reckless behavior.

Date: 2010-03-08 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I remember walking away from "Inglorious Basterds" and thinking there was a great movie there if it wasn't for the projectionist plot. Moreso than most Tarantino films, I think it was pretty schizophrenic, and also suffered from some bad promotion - I thought it was going to be, not a comedy exactly, but a lot more of Brad Pitt & Co. killing Nahtzees. And instead I got a lot of long, brooding sequences about a girl dreaming darkly of revenge. And, frankly, she bored the crap out of me.

For that matter, Quentin, please stop long foreign-language conversations in your films, especially when you forget to subtitle some of them (or subtitle them poorly, as some of the French was done)? I'm no furriner hatin' Merican, but if I wanted to watch movies with long sections in German, I'd watch German movies. It's a vain conceit and a distracting one as well, for my $.02.

Date: 2010-03-08 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And as follow-up, if I hear one more person defend the "mythic simplicity" of Avatar's storyline/characters, I will beat them to death with the Illiad. Defending that lazy scripting on the grounds that it has mythic simplicity would make an episode of Lorenzo Lamas' "Renegade" the next version of Odysseus. There's a smart way to do lean storytelling with mythic undercurrents, and a dumb way. This was the dumb way.

Date: 2010-03-08 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, did you miss any or did you actually call all of them? I had to work while it was on so I didn't actually absorb all of it, but your predictions seemed pretty much on track.

Date: 2010-03-08 12:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No, I missed Original Screenplay, but I got the rest. Including the ones I wish I'd be wrong about. :)

Date: 2010-03-08 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But making more trailers would have been a lot more work!

(Agree on your point. Still it was an amusing video. :-D)


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